Energy transition and democracy in Nantes: an independent citizens’ commission hands over its report to the metropolitan council


Publication date

September 19, 2017

The results of Nantes’ Great Debate on the energy transition, the only one of its kind in France – and possibly in Europe – by its scope and the diversity of the measures taken, have been presented on September 12th, one year after its launch.

Nantes Métropole signed the Covenant of Mayors in 2008 with the aim of reducing its GHG emissions by 50% and tripling its local renewable production by 2030. To accelerate its energy transition, the Metropolitan Council made the political choice of emphasising local stakeholders’ experiments and concrete initiatives. Since September 2016, Nantes and its metropolitan area have been hosting a Great Debate entitled “the Energy Transition is All of Us”, overseen by an independent citizen-only commission and in which 53,000 people took part!

“A distinctive feature of this debate is that it has prompted citizens to produce well-argued, experience-based proposals. It is now up to the Metropolitan Council, the local municipal councils and local stakeholders to take on board these community aspirations and initiatives in a shared roadmap, namely, the many experiments and recommendations produced by the 6 communities participating in the “debate on doing” as well as our commission’s report and proposals” the four Commission members explained.

500 citizens involved in experimentation and action communities have tested out new ways of implementing the energy transition. Their work has resulted in:
– the successful launch of 10 crowdfunding campaigns,
– the evaluation by citizens of 12 projects led by Nantes Métropole and member municipalities, with the formulation of recommendations,
– an “energy conservation” guide produced by the “Ingenious” community,
– 5 projects for collective enquiry and action devised by the “Pioneers” community.

“Both quantitatively and qualitatively, the debate has attained its objectives: combining a diversity of approaches and points of view and creating opportunities for citizens to experiment the transition” Julie Laernoes, Vice-president for energy, stated.

“The roadmap that will be presented to the Metropolitan Councillors in early 2018 will not come from the Metropolitan Council alone: the momentum generated by the debate will continue and work meetings will be organised with the communities and stakeholders in the autumn before the Metropolitan Council adopts the roadmap … so, the next milestones are this autumn and in early 2018” Johanna Rolland, Mayor of Nantes and President of Nantes Métropole concluded.

Nantes Métropole has been an active member of Energy Cities since 2006. A whole session of our annual conference organised in Stuttgart last April was dedicated to the challenges of organising this Great Debate involving local authorities and citizens.

Visit the website of the Great debate and read the conclusions online.